Selling incentive travel business is different from other types of travel, but for corporate or leisure agents who are prepared to understand the ropes, this can be a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the very best spend per person of any type of group travel,” said Bruce Tepper, v . p . of Joselyn, Tepper & Associates, a travel industry consulting and training firm.
“This is also a business containing never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives can also attract agents looking for a new challenge. “It’s something new and other and causes you to learn interesting things and new methods for doing things,” Tepper said.
The first task after determining to pursue incentive organization is being ready to dedicate staff to the effort, whether it’s existing staff which will be trained or new hires dedicated to incentives.
Once that decision is produced, agents should get training.
Now can be a good time to do that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, intends to launch a new Certified Incentive Specialist program at the end of year. Both-day program will be designed for incentive travel newcomers and can not require membership in SITE nor any minimum experience.
Incentive travel sellers need to understand companies in addition to their motivational goals, whether that’s inspiring staff to market more or moving customers to buy more services and products.
Once agents recognize how incentives work, they need to start seeking incentive business from existing clients. A primarily leisure agency might mine its client base for executives or company owners. Agents who definitely are country club members are able to also employ that as a good source of prospective clients.
Incentive travel is really a natural for travel incentive. “Use your very own client base to recognize possible leads and after that learn about their employee rewards program,” said Tim Smith, president of GlobalPoint Travel Solutions, a $70 million agency in San Diego, which does about 3% of its business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s much better to sell a software program with an individual or company with whom you have an existing relationship rather than chasing a vaporous possible client. Love usually the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Identifying potential customers
Those who wish to go after new clients won’t fight to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard that utilizes incentives very often is car dealers,” said Tepper. “Even a small dealer has 20 or 30 salespeople.
“Look for distributors of anything, like Coca Cola and Pepsi bottlers. You don’t must be in New York City, Chicago or L . A . to start,” Tepper said.
Working with incentive groups requires both a new mindset and new group of contacts.
“You’ll be dealing with a completely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even with all the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be coping with different people.
“And, you’ve got to enter in to this thinking forget commission. We all do everything from net. What pricing we use will determine what we should sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also need to select their agency’s degree of involvement. They could designate a dedicated team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek help from meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, of course, more lucrative. In addition, it means agents are unable to usually take across the incentive business of clients with existing programs but will seek out businesses that have never had a motivation program.
A different way to get involved in the organization is to team with a gathering planner or meeting and incentive house. “It may be the perfect course of action. There are many one- or two-person meeting planning businesses that may wish to pair track of an agent.” said Tepper.
Another option is to partner using a company like Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based Acclaim Meetings, which works together agents on negotiations, bookings, commission collection and technology. (Editor’s note: Belonging to American Marketing Group, Acclaim Meetings can be a sister company to Travel Market Report.)
Comprehending the business is crucial
In any event, the key to success is knowing incentive programs and just how they operate, as outlined by Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the company is providing the incentive; what their set goals are and why the worker is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you understand what’s within it for all those parties, the agent will make an informed decision of what to supply as the travel product,” she said.
“It must fulfill the budget and requirements of your sponsoring company but at the same time entice the winner/employee along with their spouse or guest should they be portion of the program. Often the spouse could possibly be the driving influence.”
Like every area of travel, developing relationships is vital not simply for clients however for vendors. “You have to work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors which means you know they may go all out,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those you do have a longtime relationship with, because eventually it’s about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings is definitely the domino effect. In the event you screw up one you’ll screw up these three.”
Advice for smaller agencies
Although larger agencies with dedicated incentive travel staff could be prone to handle incentive programs without outside help, even smaller agencies could go it on their own.
Carol Horner created the Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group inside the mid-1900s after several years being an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised in the beginning to generate a different name and identity for your incentive business.
“That’s what we did and thank goodness, because we changed our agency’s name thrice. With my incentive business the name stayed the same right from the start,” she said.
All-inclusives for incentives
Being a smaller agency with annual sales of $8 million, Horner finds it simpler to make use of all-inclusives in their programs. She utilized to create cruise incentives however right now 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You convey more flexibility with land-based programs. You could do more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is just too restricting for some people regarding the dining. The VIP feels obligated to be with the workers every night. And it’s far more lucrative to accomplish an all-inclusive compared to a cruise.”
Allow it to be unforgettable
The job of your incentive planner is always to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The most crucial thing may be the wow factor – the wow factor when it comes to the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design and the theme to thank their potential customers or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could even be ordinary London or Paris, but it will be something they can’t buy out of the box. Every aspect is going to be unique.”